Leeds Met PR expert launches new industry learning tool
Findings from the largest EU-funded project into strategic communications, undertaken by the European Communication Professionals Skills and Innovation Programme (ECOPSI) group, have led to the creation of the Portal for Advancing Communication Education (P4ACE) and a self-diagnostic tool for practitioners to test their skills, knowledge and competencies against their peers.
The findings of the study revealed that there are numerous opportunities for deeper and on-going professional training and development to support the practice in moving away from a hands-on learning on-the-job approach to knowledge acquisition and development.
The Portal for Advancing Communication Education (P4ACE) is a website that allows communication professionals in Europe to:
- Evaluate their competencies through a unique assessment;
- Learn about the essential competencies needed in the global workplace;
- Read case studies of real communication practitioners who talk about the competencies needed in today's changing work environment;
- Explore ways to develop their competencies within select regions in Europe; and
- Evaluate their current knowledge, skills and personal attributes against those of their peers in Europe through the self-diagnostic tool.
The new portal is one of the key outputs from the ECOPSI project that includes academic partners from the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, Slovenia and Turkey. These partners are; Leeds Metropolitan University, University of Leipzig, University Rey Juan Carlos, University of Amsterdam, University of Ljubljana, Istanbul University and TFEI as well as a leading professional communication organisation, the European Association of Communication Directors (EACD).
The portal has been developed from a 24-month intensive research program based on data that has been collected in two forms; (1) quantitative, through an online survey of nearly 2,200 practitioners in 42 countries as part of the annual European Communications Monitor survey and (2) qualitatively through focus groups and interviews. Focus groups were held with four role groups: chief communications officers, crisis communicators, internal communicators and social media managers. Interviews have been held across six geographically distinct regions of Europe with a total of 53 communications practitioners at different levels and performing different roles within renowned organisations such as Shell, Philips, Henkel and DHL.
The self-diagnostic tool is oriented around the ECOPSI Communication Role Matrix that captures what it is that communications practitioners actually do and the requirements that are necessary to perform in the role. The team has been able to significantly expand the knowledge and understanding into the current competencies of communication specialists in Europe, as well as understanding of their future development needs.
Professor Tench, commenting on the importance of the practical portal, said: "This is a unique learning and self-development tool which not only helps individual communication professionals to evaluate their competencies but also has significant value for groups of colleagues in departments and across large organisations. We have been pilot-testing the diagnostic tool with practitioners for the last couple of months with excellent feedback in terms of personal continuing professional development as well as invitations to consult directly with large in house teams in developing learning and development programmes. We hope more individuals and company departments take the opportunity to try the diagnostic test and feel free to come back to the team for more answers or insights if we can help further."
Further insights into the study can be found by downloading the free ECOPSI booklet, a summary of the study, or full research report at: www.ecopsi.org.uk. Additional infographics can be found on the above website. You can also contact the lead researcher, Professor Ralph Tench, for more information.